Any small-to-medium-sized business owner or operator is all too aware that it often feels like the odds are stacked against them – especially when it comes to competing with larger companies on Google. 

It’s something Google rarely addresses outright, but it seems clear that big companies have several advantages which can make it hard to compete. This is why one person decided to ask Google’s John Mueller about the situation during a recent Office Hours hangout chat with Google Search Advocate.

As Mueller acknowledges, Google is well aware that big brands often receive natural competitive advantages. But, he also had some advice for smaller brands trying to rank against massive brands – big sites face their own unique problems and limitations which can give you a chance to get the upper hand.

John Mueller’s Advice For Small Companies On Google

The original question posed to Mueller included two parts, but it was the second half that the Search Advocate decided to focus on. Specifically, he was asked:

“Do smaller organizations have a chance in competing with larger companies?”

From the outset, he says its a bit of a broader “philosophical” question, but he does his best to show how smaller companies have consistently been able to turn the tables against larger brands. For example, Mueller points to how many larger companies were so invested in using Macromedia Flash, they stuck with it long after it became clear it was not helping their SEO. Meanwhile, smaller sites often knew better and were able to use this against their competition.

“One of the things that I’ve noticed over time is that in the beginning, a lot of large companies were, essentially, incompetent with regards to the web and they made terrible websites.

And their visibility in the search results was really bad.

And it was easy for small websites to get in and kind of like say, well, here’s my small website or my small bookstore, and suddenly your content is visible to a large amount of users.

And you can have that success moment early on.

But over time, as large companies also see the value of search and of the web overall, they’ve grown their websites.

They have really competent teams, they work really hard on making a fantastic web experience.

And that kind of means for smaller companies that it’s a lot harder to gain a foothold there, especially if there is a very competitive existing market out there.

And it’s less about large companies or small companies.

It’s really more about the competitive environment in general.”

While it is true that it can seem very difficult to compete with the seemingly unlimited resources of bigger brands, history has shown time and time again that bigger brands face their own challenges. 

As Mueller concludes:

“As a small company, you should probably focus more on your strengths and the weaknesses of the competitors and try to find an angle where you can shine, where other people don’t have the ability to shine as well.

Which could be specific kinds of content, or specific audiences or anything along those lines.

Kind of like how you would do that with a normal, physical business as well.”

In the end, big brands competing are much like David facing down Goliath; if they know how to use their strengths and talents to their advantage they can overcome seemingly unbeatable challengers.

You can watch Mueller’s answer in the video below, starting around 38:14.

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